Priest Placed on Leave
Suit Alleges He Abused Teen-Age Girl for 4 Years
By Frank E. Lockwood
Lexington Herald Leader (Kentucky)
September 20, 2003
The Catholic Diocese of Lexington has placed a Frankfort priest on a temporary leave of absence after he was accused in a lawsuit of sex abuse.
The Rev. Stephen F. Gallenstein, sacramental minister for the Good Shepherd parish, will not be able to perform his priestly duties until the allegation has been investigated and the issue resolved, diocesan spokesman Tom Shaughnessy said.
Gallenstein, 55, allegedly abused a girl for four years beginning when she was 13 years old, then stalked her for 10 years, according to a court document filed this week in Boone County Circuit Court in an ongoing sex abuse lawsuit against the Covington Diocese.
Repeated attempts to reach Gallenstein by phone and e-mail were unsuccessful yesterday.
The alleged sexual abuse occurred in the late 1970s and was reported to then-Covington Bishop William Hughes, according to the court document.
But church officials appointed Gallenstein to be a principal at the girl's school despite the allegations, the court document states. Later, Gallenstein was appointed to serve in parishes across Eastern and Central Kentucky: in Ravenna, Pikeville, Middlesboro, Morehead and Salyersville.
This summer, Gallenstein was transferred from Eastern Kentucky to Good Shepherd Church in Frankfort. His installation was scheduled for Sept. 28, but has been postponed.
Originally a priest in the Covington Diocese, Gallenstein became part of the Lexington Diocese, which covers all of Eastern Kentucky and portions of Central Kentucky, when it was formed in 1988.
The court document, filed Thursday, claims the plaintiff's attorneys have exhibits that will prove the Covington Diocese knew of the allegations against Gallenstein, including a letter by Bishop Hughes to the mother of the victim. The unidentified woman is referred to in the documents only as Victim 23018.17.
Shaughnessy says Lexington Bishop Ronald Gainer, who is on church business in Rome, placed Gallenstein on a leave of absence soon after learning of the allegations, a move that is in line with the church's Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People.
"We were unaware of this allegation until (Thursday)," Shaughnessy said. "We put the policy into motion as soon as we possibly could."
Tim Fitzgerald, spokesman for the Covington Diocese, said Gallenstein's file was turned over to the Lexington Diocese in 1989 and that "the present administration had no knowledge of any sexual misconduct on the part of the priest. ..." The Covington Diocese's current files make no reference to allegations of sexual abuse by Gallenstein, he added.
But Stanley Chesley, an attorney who represents numerous plaintiffs in sex abuse lawsuits against the Catholic Church, says church leaders knew, or should have known, about the allegations against Gallenstein.
"It shouldn't have taken our lawsuit and this revelation for him to be gone," Chesley added.
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